Sunday, 26 July 2015


Flea Market Lady, bronze, polychromed in oil, mixed media. accessories, Photo Florian Kleinefenn, Image courtesy of Galerie Perrotin
 I push open the doors of the Serpentine Sackler Gallery and there in the atrium is a lady surrounded by art books and artefacts. For a brief moment I expect her to glance up at me from beneath the brim of her sun hat.
Man With Handcart, polyester resin, fibreglass, polychromed in oil, mixed media, accessories, photo Rod McKeever
There are five people in the gallery above. You can tell who they are because they are  'viewing'. Two are examining Man with a Handcart. Further back the Old Couple on a Bench  are being silently interrogated. 'Watching museum goers interacting with Hanson's art is just as much a part of experiencing his work as admiring it on its own'. From a distance it is easy. The figures are legible in terms of surface descriptions: I am a cleaner, I am an art lover, I am a handyman. But close up, each face and body is as specific as a weather worn landscape. Cast from live models, meticulous details are included such as body hairs, veins and bruises.
Old Couple on a Bench, Bronze, polychromed in oil, mixed media, accessories
Queenie II, Polychromed bronze, with accessories

Hanson's realism helps us see and empathise with fatigue, resignation and loneliness. Face to face contact with the sculptures makes us bold. We stare with no risk that Queenie II or the fatigued, forlorn man with the hand cart will "return our impolite gaze". They are not heroic figures, they aren’t special, they are equal to you and me, yet encountering them can be full of interest, wonder and surprise. In a fascinating article by Douglas Coupland in the catalogue, he muses on "selfieness" and art which, like Hanson's, is intimate, curious and democratic.

In the turmoil of everyday life, we too seldom become aware of one another. In the quiet moments in which you observe my work, maybe you will recognise the universality of all people. DUANE HANSON

I wonder what is the ambition of the millions walking around London at this moment waving their photo-sticks in the air?

In addition the catalogue Duane Hanson published by the galleries at £18 is fully illustrated and carries two arresting articles:  Surface Identity by Ruba Katrid and Duane Hanson: Realness, not Realism by Douglas Coupland

No comments:

Post a Comment